Today we hear once again from Timothy’s younger brother George Carey, from the unpublished Filmax interview by Harvey F. Chartrand.
Timmy could be a very dominant personality. He always wanted his own way. He took charge, told the actor how he wanted the role to be played. I would say Timmy was a very strong type of director, fitting his personality. But he seemed to have a good relationship with the people who were acting for him and they seemed to be very happy to be doing the acting. Timmy was definitely very charismatic. He was unique.
Not everybody liked his style. Timmy did a remarkable job with his career, considering. He was very independent, but I don’t think you can be too independent out there, if you want to keep working. Then he ran into other dominant personalities, directors who didn’t like his individual style. He had a number of people who liked his style very much. But there were some who didn’t care much for it. Some of the more established stars didn’t like Timmy’s improvisational approach to scripted scenes. When Timmy was on film, you always knew it. And I don’t know if that was always appreciated. But there were a number of people in the business who seemed to like him and appreciated his unique flair. Other people found it a little irritating.
– Filmfax article (not published) by Harvey F. Chartrand, 2003
“Loathsome,” “repulsive” and “most socially undesirable” have all been tossed around in various film guides attempting to describe the late character actor Timothy Carey. Renowned for his dominating presence in Stanley Kubrick’s early films The Killing (1956) and Paths of Glory (1957), Carey had the exhibitionism and humility of an aging circus clown, suffering to invest everything he had into even the smallest of bit roles. The sack-shaped giant with the oil spill hair and cadaverous grin died of his third major stroke on May 11, 1994. But what remains unmentioned in reference sources are his humanist spirit, and love for the Average Joe that inspired not only his acting, but his own writing and directing ventures, which were as ridiculous as they were revolutionary.
– Ara Corbett, “Rebels With a Cause: The Timothy Carey – John Cassavetes Partnership,” Filmfax magazine #56 (May/June 1996)
Timothy with Ara Corbett, summer of 1992
(photo by Michael Murphy)
Our pic for today is not the usual screen cap from one of Timothy’s films. Instead, it’s a portrait of the artist as a young director. It was taken around the time Tim was attempting to film his script A.L. (which is not only the lead character’s name, but “L.A.” spelled backwards). The year was 1956.
A.L. tells the story of a young man from the Midwest named Al and his pet monkey, temporarily stranded in the labyrinths of Los Angeles without a car, while his wife prepares to give birth to their first child in a nearby hospital. Timothy had apparently filmed the first forty pages of his script before realizing that his lead actor simply didn’t have the chops to carry off the part.
“I’ve seen footage of A.L.,” Tim’s son Romeo told Harvey F. Chartrand in Filmfax magazine, “and it is amazing. Crisp 35mm footage on the freeway. Really cool. The monkey and the Midwestern couple are in it. So A.L. exists, but it hasn’t been cut. Much of it hasn’t even been screened. I have a vault with stacks of film cans of A.L. that I haven’t gone through yet.” Here’s hoping that footage soon sees the light of day.
This week’s quote is another one not by Timothy, but about him:
“Tweet’s is the complete antithesis to Sinner. This is Dad’s version of what he thought was funny. He learned a lot about filming comedy from watching silent movies. It’s really a showcase for my dad’s acting talent. He incorporated silent film-making techniques into his acting. Silent film acting had to be very physical. That plays to one of my dad’s strengths, the sheer physicality of it… Tweet’s is a total change of pace from Sinner. Comparing Tweet’s to Sinner is like comparing Santa Claus to Satan.”
– Romeo Carey, from “Timothy Carey: The World’s Greatest Director!”, Filmfax Plus magazine #102 (April/June 2004), article and interviews by Harvey F. Chartrand
This week’s quote is another that isn’t by Timothy, but about him:
“It’s very sad that Tim never got to make The Insect Trainer. It really was the pinnacle project of his life. Tim worked on it for many years. Many actors wanted to work on The Insect Trainer with Tim, because it was like going to a workshop with a great actor! You remember Tim’s great line from The Insect Trainer: ‘Live longer, live healthier, and let thy arse make wind.’ Who in his right mind would ever write a play or make a film about farting? Tim would, but it wasn’t just some sophomoric joke or adolescent regression. The Insect Trainer is rather a mature realization of the dangers of suppressing our emotions, especially for men. I mean, we cough in public. Why can’t we fart in public? Who decides these things? But Tim would ask, ‘Why would you suppress your body from functioning?’ I would call Tim a liberator of feelings, rather than an intellectual.”
– Filmmaker Gerry Fialka, from “Timothy Carey: The World’s Greatest Director!”, Filmfax Plus magazine #102 (April/June 2004), article and interviews by Harvey F. Chartrand
“[Francis Ford] Coppola wanted me so much to be in The Godfather. But the stage wasn’t right. I just would have made a lot of money, and when you make a lot of money, it doesn’t help an artist because the more money you have, the more trouble you have. Except to make a film, that’s different, of course, but [John] Cassavetes, it would never affect him… Coppola didn’t have the sensitivity that Cassavetes had. He’s a good director, a nice fella, but he’s no John. Nobody’s a John Cassavetes. Nobody!”
– “Rebels With a Cause: The Timothy Carey-John Cassavetes Partnership,” Filmfax #56 (May/June 1996), article and interview by Ara Corbett
“I wish I could get him [John Cassavetes] on the phone now and call him up and speak to him… I wish I had a direct wire to where he is. If there’s a heaven, boy, if there’s a God, he’s got to be right there. I feel his spirit around me… John Cassavetes was different! He would inspire people. He didn’t believe in anything negative; there wasn’t a negative bone in his body. You could always call him up any time and he was always there to give you a helping hand. Just incredible… He had to drop dead and die, I mean it’s just a shame. I don’t know why he couldn’t have stayed. He kept telling me he’s OK, he’s OK, but he wasn’t.”
— from “Rebels With a Cause: The Timothy Carey-John Cassavetes Partnership,” article and interview by Ara Corbett, Filmfax magazine #56 (May/June 1996)
“I wasn’t trying to upstage anyone; I just wanted to do it for the good of the show. Sometimes I’d overdo it maybe. Sometimes I didn’t do exactly what the director wanted, that’s true… I try so hard, you know. To me, it’s like the last film I’m gonna make, and I want it to be the best.”
– Interview with Ara Corbett, “Rebels with a Cause: The Timothy Carey-John Cassavetes Partnership,” Filmfax magazine #56